Week Commencing Sunday 7th June

Week Commencing Sunday 7th June 2020

Dear Friends,

I trust you are keeping well.

This week’s update includes a devotional thought on Psalm 131 by Edwin Cottingham.

 

Call to worship.

 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55: 8, 9.

 

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 3, 4

 

Opening prayer of praise and adoration

 

“Praise our God all you his servants, honour him, you who fear God, both great and small. Heaven and earth praise your glory, o Lord, all creatures in heaven, on earth and under the earth, let us praise and glorify him for ever.” (St Francis of Assisi 1182-1226)

 

 

Hymn.

 

 

1 Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy:
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

2 Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe:
Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

3 Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace:
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

4 Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm:
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

                                                            Jan Struther

 

 

Reading. Psalm 131

 

Message.

 

‘Paws! For Thoughts on Psalm 131’

 

I was particularly struck by this short Psalm of only three verses when I read it earlier this week, and it has been playing around in my mind ever since.

 

The first verse says: - My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

 

I have never been a celebrity or ever likely to, but come to that I do not think I would want to be. As for being haughty, which the dictionary describes as being “arrogantly superior” I sincerely hope I never come over as that! Whilst I am interested in some things too wonderful for me, such as modern tech and how things work, I cannot pretend to understand them.

 

We had our first telephone installed when I was about five, I can still remember the number, Rushlake Green 345 and my Grandma’s number 342! Strange that because I cannot remember what Rosemary asked me to do 2 minutes ago! I learnt and understood exactly how a telephone works and how sound was transmitted but I do not begin to understand how modern smart phones and Wi-Fi works. How man and knowledge has advanced in my lifetime, in fact many feel so self-sufficient that they feel no need for God! After all, if we can conquer space travel and all the other achievements we have made, why do we need that old-fashioned idea of a God? That is, until we are attacked by something so small, we cannot see it and so virulent that it destroys thousands of people worldwide and totally disrupts our lifestyle and fills people with so much fear that they are scared to even walk out their front doors! David was right when he wrote in Psalm 14: - “The fool says in his heart there is no God”.

 

The second verse says: - But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

 

What is a weaned child? It is a child that no longer needs or relies on its mother’s milk to feed it. It has become, in a sense, self-sufficient. Yet it still needs some where to run to in times of crisis and to look to, for comfort and encouragement.

 

We may have become self-sufficient and confident enough to think that we can “go it alone” but where do we turn when hit with a pandemic, we are now facing, that has destroyed life as we have known it? Trade has been disrupted, national debt is going through the roof, jobs are on the line and it seems inevitable that companies will fail, unemployment will rise and recession will hit us. So, is it all doom and gloom?

 

The last verse has the answer: - O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.

 

Where does your hope lie? Can you say as Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11: - I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

 

You and I can say the same if we put our hope in the Lord.

Habakkuk wrote in 3:17: -

17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

He enables me to go on the heights.

 

Can you say the same?

 

Edwin Cottingham

 

Hymn

 

For the joys and for the sorrows
The best and worst of times
For this moment, for tomorrow
For all that lies behind
Fears that crowd around me
For the failure of my plans
For the dreams of all I hope to be
The truth of what I am

For this I have Jesus
For this I have Jesus
For this I have Jesus, I have Jesus
(Repeat)

For the tears that flow in secret
In the broken times
For the moments of elation
Or the troubled mind
For all the disappointments
Or the sting of old regrets
All my prayers and longings
That seem unanswered yet

For the weakness of my body
The burdens of each day
For the nights of doubt and worry
When sleep has fled away
Needing reassurance
And the will to start again
A steely-eyed endurance
The strength to fight and win

Graham Kendrick

 

 

 

 

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I was encouraged to read the following in Ron Dunn’s book ‘Don’t just stand there. Pray something!’

Dunn describes how he spent 14 weeks preaching on intercessory prayer and then gathered 200 intercessors in their new prayer chapel. He remembers the first request for prayer:

“The phone rang. We were in business. It was one of our mothers- a terrified mother, calling from the hospital where they had just brought her two year old son. The little boy had got hold of a can of car engine cleaner, worked the cap off and drank some of the toxic liquid. He was screaming and convulsing when they rushed him into the emergency room.

The doctor offered no hope that the boy would survive. He had ingested enough of the poison to kill an adult. And if by some chance he did live he would probably be blind.

And so began our ministry of intercessory prayer.

Confession time. I hate to admit it, but among my immediate thoughts was this sorry one: I’m going to give this request to our intercessors and they’re going to pray for this child’s recovery, really believing he’s going to be all right, and he’ll die (that’s what the doctor said and he ought to know) and then they’ll be discouraged.

For fourteen straight weeks I had preached to these people about the incredible power of intercession and they had believed it every word of it. They were hyped up, raring to go, chomping at the bit. I had hoped we could start out with something easy and work our way up to the hard stuff. I just knew this was going to be a big let-down.

The request was given to the intercessors, and they came and they prayed. For twenty four hours they entered the chapel to exercise their priesthood, to besiege the throne of God, to lay down their lives for a brother.

Twenty four hours after the first phone call, the phone shattered the hush of the chapel once more. It was the mother calling again from the hospital. She was crying, laughing, praising God. The doctor didn’t understand it, but her baby was going to recover, and there was no damage to his eyes or any vital organs. Wasn’t it wonderful! It had to be a miracle!

And so it was. I had thought it best to launch our intercessory ministry with the possible and work up to the impossible. But God started with the impossible and demonstrated from the very beginning the awesome power of prayer.”

What a wonderful testimony which encourages us to persevere in prayer and so continue to intercede for all those who are facing extreme difficulty at this time.

Let us pray each day for all who are engaged in the care of those who are suffering from COVID-19. Pray for all who live on their own and for those who have lost their employment and are suffering hardship.

 

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Helen Holt, the Editor of ‘All About Angmering’ magazine asked me if I would like to write something about our church as we face all that comes with COVID-19 at this time. I wrote it a month ago to come out in June’s edition, so one or two details have changed, but essentially I believe it remains an accurate description. Please pray that those who read it will be drawn to the Lord and seek Him and his love for themselves. It is on page 53 of the magazine, but I have printed it here for your convenience.

Angmering Baptist Church

A lady is battling coronavirus. Her husband also had it but is better. This lady is yet to turn the corner and is on a stronger course of antibiotics, failing that she goes into hospital not knowing what lies ahead. However, her text to me is full of gratitude for devotional materials received and the fellowship’s prayers. She hopes my wife and I are well.

Another person from our fellowship leads a clinical trials team looking for a vaccine. Others food shop for the elderly. Our fellowship primarily consists of older folk, many of whom are ‘vulnerable’ in the present climate. But I find them remarkably positive, even those who live on their own. Many speak of the support they have received from younger relatives. Two ladies are fighting cancer, their treatment is partly curtailed, but they are undeterred. One says ‘I am in the Lord’s hands’. With one exception all our Deacons are over seventy, but they faithfully call everyone on their pastoral lists.

As we hear about Captain Tom on the news, or applaud those employed by the NHS we realise there is nothing like this in the animal kingdom. We humans are made in God’s Image. The world is full of suffering, but it is also full of courage and compassion to overcome it.

In Christ, God overcomes. He endured deep suffering, both physical and spiritual agony to bring us salvation; even forgiveness of sin, eternal life and ultimately a new heaven and earth. We and our children learn best when we learn our need of Him and we learn from Him.

Please call me on 01903 446353 if you would like hymns, prayers and biblical sermons relevant for these times posted through your door (no charge) or visit our website.

David Barnes (Minister).

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Hymn                                                                                                                                                           See, what a morning, gloriously bright,
With the dawning of hope in Jerusalem;
Folded the grave-clothes, tomb filled with light,
As the angels announce, "Christ is risen!"
See God's salvation plan,
Wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

See Mary weeping, "Where is He laid?"
As in sorrow she turns from the empty tomb;
Hears a voice speaking, calling her name;
It's the Master, the Lord raised to life again!
The voice that spans the years,
Speaking life, stirring hope, bringing peace to us,
Will sound till He appears,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

One with the Father, Ancient of Days,
Through the Spirit who clothes faith with certainty.
Honour and blessing, glory and praise
To the King crowned with power and authority!
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!

Stuart Townend/Keith Getty

 

Blessing

May the light of Christ, rising in glory, scatter the darkness of your hearts and minds; and may the blessing of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, rest upon you, and be with you always. Amen.